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Patterns of Occupied Palestine: Goodbye Trump, Hello Status Quo

Politically, there is a clear difference between Biden and Trump, but for the Palestinians, they both favor Israel over us

— Palestinian taxi driver Ahmed Zayed, former member of Fatah, The Christian Science Monitor, December 2

Two days after that article was published in the Christian Science Monitor, Israeli Occupation Forces killed a teenage Palestinian boy named Ali Ayman Saleh Abu Alia in al-Mughayyir village in the occupied West Bank. According to Defense for Children International Palestine (DCIP), Ali was shot and killed while witnessing clashes between the occupation forces and Palestinian youth protesters of his village.

As much as Israel likes to present itself, or market itself as this little Sparta that can look after itself, of course it can’t. And as much as Israel makes of its own weapons technology and arms industry, the weapons that really allow Israel to project power and to project terror across the region are all American weapons… Israel is totally dependent on the United States.

— Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, November 18.

Ali was roughly 50 meters away from the occupation forces when he was struck in the abdomen “by a .22 caliber bullet fired from a ‘Ruger’ rifle — a gun produced by the Connecticut-based Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc.” DCIP also confirmed that Ali was the fifth minor to be killed with live ammunition this year alone. It also happened to be his birthday, December 4th, and he was looking forward to his party.

Ali got excited and asked his mother to prepare the cake for the evening. But it’s his fate to eat the cake somewhere else [in heaven]… This is not new … We are continuously targeted – our sheep, our houses and our kids – if not by the Israeli army, it’s by the settlers.

— Ayman, father of Ali Alia, Al Jazeera, December 6.

On December 6, 2017, exactly three years and two days before the state of Israel decided to violently snatch Ali’s life away from him with systemic unaccountability that it continues to enjoy, Donald Trump made known to the world that he would be moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Following Trump’s announcement, Palestinian protesters by the thousands took to the streets of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), which include the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Israeli forces responded with an excessive use of force that included live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas canisters and concussion grenades across the OPT. And by December 18th Israeli forces had killed 8 Palestinians, injured 2,900 others, including 345 children.

One of the protesters killed during those clashes in response to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s’s capital was 29-year-old Bassel Mustafa Muhammad Ibrahim from the town of Anata, northeast of Jerusalem. Like Ali, Bassel who was the father of a 4-year-old boy, wasn’t participating but was witnessing clashes between a group of stone throwers and Israeli soldiers, when he was shot in the chest with a live round from a distance of 200 meters.

Bassel Ibrahim was killed on December 15, 2017, and Ali Alia on December 4, 2020. Just between December 15, 2017 and December 2020, more than 480 Palestinians, including 96 children were killed by Israel in cold blood, with 17-year-old Mahmoud Omar Sadeq Kamil being the latest victim. Mahmoud’s father tells us that instead of “delivering various fatal shots” the soldiers could have just injured him. Not only that, but “by holding the corpse of his deceased son, and refusing to release it for proper burial, in addition to threatening home demolition Israel is violating numerous human rights agreements, and is attempting to harm and inflict more suffering on the entire family.”

In the April 24, 2018 teleSUR ‘The World Today with Tariq Ali’ episode Ali poses a question to his guest Amira Hass:

The situation in Palestine I feel is that there is no solution now being offered by most of the established states in the Arab world who are in a complete disaster story themselves… the idea of, which was the hope of many, we have to admit, of an independent Palestinian state is gone. If it exists, the South Africans who go there tell us it will be worse than the Bantustans… The campaigns which are nonviolent like the BDS are attacked as being anti-semitic. So when you look at all this what is the overall likely future?

To which Hass responded:

[The term] solution brings to mind something which is final… One of the reasons that I don’t like to discuss the one state solution… is because then it obliges us to discuss the rights of Jews in this state… If a one state is some kind of a metaphysical and emotional undoing of history then it’s not what you’re [Tariq Ali] talking about. So I prefer not to talk about solutions right now. I want to talk about phases… This is the reality today of Bantustans, and the Israeli side wants to deepen it.

Solutionism when applied to various crises around the globe, such as the occupation of Palestine by Israel, is a distraction from the systemic nature of the problem where there is no one magic solution that will simply make everything all right. Especially not when, as Ahmed Zayed suggested, the United States’ favoritism toward Israel is a deep-rooted bipartisan one.

Those of us who have been following the 53-year-old military occupation of Palestine, and the 12-year-old siege of Gaza, know fully well that what Trump overtly voiced via the so-called “deal of the century,” U.S. administrations-past have tried to pull off covertly: a Trump “peace plan” would effectively create a truncated Palestinian Bantustan in which sizable portions of their land would be furnished to the occupiers.

[Israel is] the best $3 billion investment we make. Were there not an Israel the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region

— Joe Biden, in the Senate in 1986, Electronic Intifada, November 8.

Biden has already said that he will not move the US embassy back to Tel Avi. Come January 21, is the status quo regarding the half century long U.S.-Israel romance still in order? Another phase? Let’s not forget that it was the Obama/Biden administration that handed Israel the $38 billion ten-year (2019 through 2028) military aid package on a silver platter. There is no reason to believe that Biden wouldn’t build on his 1986 and Obama/Biden administration rhetoric.

The term “occupation” is strikingly missing from Trump’s 2020 plan. The only mention of the word is as a synonym for job or profession.

— Al Jazeera, The Failed Deal of the century.

The Democratic Party will not mention the word “occupation” in its 2020 platform when describing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories – a key demand of progressive activists.

— Middle East Eye, July 27.

Interestingly, four years of the Trump administration have held a mirror up to the soul of U.S. domestic and foreign policies. Policies that created the Black Lives Matter movement at home in response to institutional police and white-power brutality; and policies toward Palestine that prompted the BDS movement in response to the belligerent Israeli occupation.

For the Zionists when it comes to Palestine, as Tariq Ali suggested, BDS = anti-Semitism; and, for the white supremacists when it comes to Black and Brown lives, BLM= All Lives Matter. Two hollow, pathetic, irrational defenses against which there may be no defense.

So what is the “overall likely future” for Palestinians like Ali Alia and Bassel Ibrahim, and Americans like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd for that matter? That is at a minimum a $38 billion question.

Priti Gulati Cox is an interdisciplinary artist, and a local coordinator for the peace and justice organization CODEPINK. She lives in Salina, Kansas, and can be reached at p.g@cox.net. Please click here to see more of her work.

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